cloud security

Using cloud storage is great as it frees up your hard drive, and protects your files from any mishap happening to your physical machine. When browsing our best cloud storage providers, though, you may find yourself confused to what all the security talk means. That’s where this handy guide to cloud security comes in.

Below we’ll go into the most important things you need to know about cloud security, but first we’ll address why you need it. As you likely know, the internet is a dangerous place where cybercrime runs rife. Hackers can target your data and hit you with ransomware, intercept your transfers with man-in-the-middle-attacks or steal your credentials. It’s important to have strong security measures in place to prevent that.

The good news is that deflecting crime is pretty easy on the internet, all you need is a few basic steps to be taken. Let’s take a look at them.

Private Encryption

zero-knowledge

Private encryption, you may know it as zero-knowledge, prevents anyone but you from reading your data. The service you use won’t be able to access your data because only you have the key to it. The downside to that approach is that if you lose your password, it’s gone forever because a zero-knowledge service can’t reset it for you.

To mitigate the risk of that, consider using a password manager. Regardless, make sure that you create a strong password. You can find the best service with private encryption in our best zero-knowledge cloud services article. 

Sync.com is our overall best cloud storage service. It was founded in Toronto in 2011 and has gained a reputation for strong security and user privacy. It doesn’t charge extra for zero-knowledge encryption like some services do. You can get 2TB of storage for just $96 a year or $8 a month. Read more about it in our Sync.com review.

The next best zero-knowledge service, pCloud, requires you to pay for its Crypto add-on to enable private encryption. It’s $3.99 per month. Other than that, offers good value because you can get 2TB of space for $9.99 a month. If you pay for the year, the cost comes down to $95.88. It’s also the best cloud storage for Linux. Read our pCloud review for all its pros and cons.

MEGA is another service that takes good care of your privacy. In addition to being zero-knowledge, it keeps your data in data centers in Luxembourg, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand, all of which were determined by the European Commission to have an adequate level of protection under Article 45 of the General Data Protection Regulation. For more details, read our MEGA review.

At-Rest and In-Transit Encryption

There are many encryption algorithms ranging from the old DES to the newer Blowfish and AES. As you might have guessed, the latest of the lot, AES, is the most secure. It has several levels of security, depending on the key length, which can be 128, 192 and 256 bits.

256-bit is the most secure, but, as far as we know, nobody has been able to crack any implementation of it. They are typically used at-rest.

During transfer, cloud storage services tend to use the TLS protocol to protect your files from eavesdropping. It establishes a secure connection by performing a handshake between two machines using a cipher, authentication and key exchange.

A lot of services offer sufficient levels of encryption and use the TLS protocol. One service that stands out thanks to its many security measures, though, is Tresorit.

Because of that, it’s on our list of the most secure cloud storage services. Your privacy is also guaranteed because it’s zero-knowledge and keeps your data on servers in Ireland and the Netherlands. You can find out more about its security in our Tresorit review.

Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication is helpful when you want to prevent those bothersome hackers from stealing your credentials. When you turn it on, it makes it so you have to enter a code in addition to your password to log in. You can get the code using several methods.

One service that has many options for two-factor authentication is FilesAnywhere. It’s a storage solution that has strong security and high prices.

Using it, you can have your users enter an additional code they receive via email, SMS or phone call to log in. Other features include filtering access by IP address and restricting logins per day. You can read the full security description in our FilesAnywhere review.

Ransomware Protection

Ransomware is no joke. It’s a type of malware that finds your sensitive files and encrypts them. If you want to access your files again, you have to pay the hackers a ransom to get the special decryption key from them. That is, if they deliver it at all. It’s better not to fall victim in the first place. That’s where cloud services come into play.

In our best online backup with ransomware protection piece, we list six services that perform well against it.

Our top choice is CloudBerry Backup. It acts as a control center for your cloud storage and backup accounts. It has ransomware scanning and advanced versioning to help you stay ahead of ransomware. The standard backup license is $49.99. Read the full description of it in our CloudBerry Backup review.

For a more mainstream solution, try Acronis True Image. Its Active Protection is AI-based, so it can learn to detect attacks better with more data. It blocks processes and notifies users when it detects suspicious behaviors. Plus, it can recover damaged files in an instant. The price starts at $49.99 per year for 250GB. Read more in our Acronis True Image review.

Cloud storage solutions use versioning to fight ransomware. Many have it, but the implementations differ in the number of versions or days you can roll back. Sync.com offers unlimited versioning and others we’ve mentioned have similar capabilities.

If you need another solution, try OneDrive, which offers file versioning for the last 30 days. Read more in our OneDrive review.

Sharing Content Control

One of the main benefits of cloud services is sharing. Most services take a similar approach by allowing you to generate links to files or folders or invite others to collaborate with you. Where they differ the most is the ability to restrict and control your shared content.

Proper content control can include password protected links, expiry dates, folder permissions and more. We’ve narrowed our choices down to five services in our best cloud storage for sharing article. It should come as no surprise that Sync.com, pCloud and Tresorit are at the top because they offer strong content control.

The two trailing services are Box and Dropbox. They don’t match the top services, but they aren’t far behind, either. Box is an enterprise service that targets businesses, so if you need that, read our Box review. If you’re a single user and prefer popular services, try Dropbox. Before you do, though, learn more about it in our Dropbox review.

Final Thoughts

Cloud security isn’t a trivial matter, especially if you keep sensitive information in the cloud. We listed the five most important features cloud services should have to keep your data safe. They are private encryption, strong at-rest and in-transit encryption, two-factor authentication, ransomware protection and secure sharing.

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Overall, Sync.com comes out best, but as you can see above, there are plenty of other services to consider as well. What do you think about cloud security? Do you think the services listed here are good for your small business? Let us know in the comments below. Thank you for reading.

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